The greatest of Mozart's wind serenades and the toughest of Alban Berg's major works might seem an unlikely pairing, but in an interview included with the sleeve notes for this release, Pierre Boulez points up their similarities. Both works are scored for an ensemble of 13 wind instruments (with solo violin and piano as well in the Berg) and both include large-scale variations as one of their movements - and Boulez makes the comparisons plausible enough in these lucid performances. It's rare to hear him conducting Mozart, too, and if the performance is a little brisker and more strait-laced than ideal, the EIC's phrasing is a model of clarity and good taste. It's the performance of the Berg, though, that makes this such an important issue; both soloists, Mitsuko Uchida and Christian Tetzlaff, are perfectly attuned to Boulez's approach - they have given a number of performances of the Chamber Concerto before - and the combination of accuracy and textural clarity with the highly wrought expressiveness that is the essence of Berg's music is perfectly caught.
In June 1934, as temperatures dropped 70 degrees below zero, Richard Byrd lay alone in a tiny hut near the South Pole, close to death. No one had ever experienced winter in the interior of Antarctica. Desperately ill, Byrd made a note in his diary: Fully expect to die. In an age of heroes, he was one of the world's greatest. An explorer, aviation pioneer and scientist, Byrd was also an egotist, risk-taker - and, his critcs claim, a self-promoter who took credit for the accomplishments of others. Byrd became an international hero after he claimed to have made the first flight over the North Pole. But some questioned whether he had really made it. Underrated, Byrd set out for Antarctica, where he would be the first to fly over the Soth Pole. Then, with no poles left to conquer, he secretly planned a dramatic feat: enduring the winter alone on the polar ice. Drawing on compelling archival footage, interviews with family members, colleagues and historians, and rich musical score, ALONE ON THE ICE tells the remarkable story of America's most famous, and controversial polar explorer.